The Steelers say they have a new fan in the White House and the new president also has one of the team's most recent prized collectibles, a game ball from their victory in the AFC championship Sunday.
Dan Rooney and his son, Jim, personally delivered the football to Barack Obama Monday night in Washington.
The two Rooneys, who campaigned heavily for President Obama in Pennsylvania and three surrounding states for several months before the election, attended the black-tie dinner at the Washington Hilton that Obama held for Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate he defeated in November. The Obama campaign invited the Rooneys to the dinner.
The 44th president, on the eve of his inauguration, spoke about McCain before he left for another dinner he held for Colin Powell. Obama met with Dan and Jim Rooney in a separate room at the Hilton, where he received the game ball.
"He's a [Chicago] Bears fan first, he admits that," Dan Rooney said yesterday at the Steelers' UPMC training center. "But he's a Steelers' fan. He's said it, and all his staff, they're rooting for us [in the Super Bowl]."
Also in attendance was former Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris.
While Dan Rooney knew the Kennedys and was particularly close with Bobby Kennedy, he said he never has been as close with a president as he is with Obama, whom he calls a friend.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published January 21, 2009 5:00 AM